The Week Magazine
Oct 10, 1999
The nun's shame
Crime: Urine therapy against conversions!
Kanhaiah Bhelari

Sister Ruby came to Bihar from Pondicherry 15 months ago, fired by a passion to serve oppressed women. In September she became one of them.

TRAUMATIC SEQUEL: The wound inflicted on Sister Ruby's (left) psyche festers, with unending visits of journalists, well-wishers and investigating officers.

According to a case filed at the Goldenganj police station on September 20, the 25-year-old nun had gone to Chapra by a horse-drawn carriage. Chapra is the closest market to Jalalpur, where the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary run the St. Joseph's Health Centre. On reaching Gandhi Chauk, she took an autorickshaw to go to the general post office.

Two persons were already in it. When the driver turned the vehicle in the opposite direction, Sr Ruby resisted. But the fellow passengers took her to a lonely place near a grove, tied her hands behind her, stripped her and forced her to drink their urine. They asked her why the sisters converted people to Christianity and warned her of dire consequences if she did not leave the district.

They then dropped her at Chapra town, from where she walked back half the way and took an autorickshaw to the health centre. According to Sister Rajam, in charge of the health centre, Sr Ruby fell down and started weeping uncontrollably as soon as she reached there. After much persuasion she narrated the event.

As the priest of the Chapra church was away, the sisters informed Fr Cajiton, secretary to the bishop of Bettiah in the neighbouring East Champaran district. He arrived there the next day. The assault has left Sr Ruby traumatised. "She behaves like an insane person and starts laughing," said Sr Rajam. The wound on her psyche festers, with unending visits of journalists, well-wishers, and investigating officers. "She has to narrate the heinous act several times a day," said Fr Cajiton.

The four nuns at the health centre live in fear and are keen to move to any safer place. Sr Ruby will be sent to another place once the investigations are over. This is the first time that the sisters have faced trouble since the opening of the health centre in Jalalpur, 7 km from Chapra. "But in June some anti-social elements tried to break the main gate for three days," said Sr Rajam. "I was at Aurangabad then." "Though we had complained about it, the police made no effort to nab the culprits," said another sister indignantly. "Now, even facilities like electricity and telephone, which had been disconnected for a long time, have been reinstated overnight," she said.

The Director-General of Police, K.A. Jacob has constituted a three-member inquiry committee and Superintendent Salil Kumar has formed a task force to arrest the culprits.

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